Helena Beat – a dystopian perspective

opening frame

Continuing a Year 9 study of perspectives through song lyrics and music videos, I couldn’t resist Foster the People’s ‘Helena Beat’. Released in 2011, the music video was directed by Ace Norton with several intertextual references to dystopian texts, such as Mad Max and Lord of the Flies. Students discussed the key ideas and themes, noting that it is important to stay true to yourself.

Interestingly, we did not discuss the inspiration for the song as explained on Wikipedia:

“Helena Beat” was written by the group’s lead songwriter Mark Foster to embody the attitude of the drug culture within Hollywood. Foster says the lyrics—particularly the line “Yeah yeah and it’s okay, I tie my hands up to a chair so I don’t fall that way”—are meant to express the nonchalant attitude that people had to their destructive tendencies. He said, “They’re the young, hot, up and coming, powerful people that are gonna run the world. But they’re just going out and doing drugs every night. They’re saying it with this big smile of their face like ‘I’m great, everything’s great,’ ‘but don’t you see that you’re completely out of your mind on drugs right now that you can’t even stand?’.

The class were able to make thoughtful insights about their understanding and perspective of this text without any contextual pre-figuring or discussion of destructive tendencies. Too often, we (teachers) provide too much information and perhaps inadvertently position students to accept perspectives as their own.

postcard from the past

After viewing and discussing themes and intertextual references, we read and annotated the lyrics.

escapist desert drive

Students completed a quiz of multiple choice questions to review their understanding of different language features. Helena Beat multiple choice quiz

intertextual band of youth


2 responses to “Helena Beat – a dystopian perspective

  1. Love this!!! Another quality music vid. ( the name of the song is pretty cool too)
    I’m keen to play it to my year 10.
    We’ve been looking at the concept in relation to ‘The Truman Show’ where Christof’s utopia is Truman’s dystopia. I’d love to throw this at them as another example/definition of dystopian worlds just to expand their knowledge!!!!!.
    They’ll get the Mad Max reference quick smart.

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